3 Ways to Make Video Chatting Easier for Seniors

Nurse Next Door

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During a pandemic, when staying home is encouraged but we still want to see friends and family, video chatting apps have become our new best friend. But as anyone with an elderly loved one knows, setting up a video call can be a challenge – from figuring out how to make a call, to trying to explain what the unmute button looks like on Zoom over the phone. Here are 3 tips for helping a senior in your life set up their video calling with ease!

Explaining why video chatting is so important

A stumbling block for many seniors is the idea of the technology itself. Because this modern way of connecting is new to them, it may feel intimidating. Being as reassuring as possible is a great way to help them open up to video chatting. According to the Government of Canada, “socially isolated seniors are more at risk of negative health behaviours including drinking, smoking, being sedentary and not eating well; have a higher likelihood of falls; and, have a four-to-five times greater risk of hospitalization[1]” so encouraging consistent social contact is critical to the health of those 75 years and older.  Mentioning the health risks of not maintaining social contact can be a point of conversation that may help them become more interested in regular video calls.

These video calls can go beyond family connections – they’re also the next step to helping them feel more comfortable with the virtual versions of their favourite hobbies. Empowering a senior to use video chat opens the door to virtual book clubs, online knitting groups, video church service, and more. If there is a group or activity they used to participate in, investigate if they have an online version during COVID-19. This can be a great way to encourage digital participation, thus making video calling seem more worthwhile and easier to do.

Getting them the right tech

Does your mom struggle to see the letters on her phone? Does your dad have difficulty navigating the computer? Making sure that your senior loved one is set up with the right device is the first step to successful video chatting. Tablets are a common favourite for adults 75 and older due to their large screen and easy to navigate buttons. Many phones have text scaling options that make reading on a small screen easier but can be hard to navigate to if you aren’t there to adjust the text size in person. Computers can be a great resource as well, but if they lack a built-in webcam or microphone like many older computers do, the set up can be a long winded process. Check out your local electronics store or buy and sell pages to find an easy-to-use tablet they can keep at home that requires little to no set up.

Finding the Right App

Sometimes the trouble can be as simple as what app they are using. Depending on what device they already own or where their email is set up, one video chatting app may be better than the other. If they own an Apple device like an iPhone or iPad, Facetime is the easiest option as there is nothing to log into, and they are already accustomed to talking to you on their device. If they have a Gmail email, Google Hangouts may be easiest since they are already comfortable with logging on to their email. If they are an avid Facebook user, Facebook Video is a great option. Apps like Zoom or Skype may seem simple but the process of creating an account, logging in, and turning their camera on or off can confuse the process. Don’t hesitate to try out a few options to find which app is the best fit and makes the most sense for the technology they already own.

Staying in contact with our seniors is always critical, but especially so during a pandemic when we can’t drop by and check on loved ones as often as we would like. Video calling has revolutionized the way we stay in contact with our loved ones and creating a seamless chat system means they can continue to be engaged within the safety of their own home.

If you know a senior that could use some extra help at home setting up their video calls and more, give us a call at 403-454-1399 to find out how our caregiving team can keep them safe and happy!

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/national-seniors-council/programs/publications-reports/2014/social-isolation-seniors/page05.html

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